Science

Antimicrobial medicine: An ant species treats nestmates with

Matabele ants (Megaponera analis) in sub-Saharan Africa apply an antimicrobial substance to nestmates whose limbs are lost while raiding termite nests

Life



12 May 2022

An ant applying medical treatment to another ant with an injured leg

An ant treating another ant with an injured leg

Erik Frank/University of Würzburg

An African ant seems to be the only known species, besides humans, that can diagnose infected wounds and treat them with antimicrobial medicine.

Matabele ants (Megaponera analis) are relatively large insects found in sub-Saharan Africa that raid termite nests for food. This is risky because termite nests are defended by soldiers that can bite the ants, tearing off their limbs in up to a fifth of cases.

Erik Frank at the University of Würzburg in Germany previously observed that Matabele ants that …


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